A Deserted Road To Mae Fa Luang.

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by Steve Merchant, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. #1 Steve Merchant, Oct 21, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
    Sitting around in my house at Tha Makaeng, 10kms east of Tha Ton I decided the weather had changed enough to announce it winter and made a quick decision to take a days outing on my little 135 Yamaha Spark. It was still slightly misty when I left at 8am, but that cleared just a few kms up the hill and I was on familiar ground through the KMT villages, past the Mae Salong T junction and down the 1098 heading to Mae Chan. The route I'd chosen was the left turn off this road about half way between the T junction and Mae Chan which I found is clearly but wrongly marked. The signs show the main road as the 107 and the left turn as the 1098! The road looks quite new, good surface, steep gradients with some sharp corners but is so little used the weeds and grasses are falling in from the roadsides. It basically goes up a mountain ridge and down the other side bringing you to the main road that comes down from Mae Salong to the C Rai - Mae Sai highway. I turned right and followed that for just a few kms until I came to another marked junction, left to Doi Tung and Mae Fa Luang. Another lovely road, good surface, tight bends but almost no land slip or dirt/dust to cause trouble. A beautiful drive, clean mountain air and hardly another vehicle on the road, just a few locals on 110 Waves.
    Being the fool I am I completely forgot that recent events would create a virtual pilgrimage of mourning Thais to Mae Fa Luang so it was jammed packed with black and white clad visitors and I was forced to turn right down the mountain to the Mae Sai highway to avoid a long delay caused by big crowds of dignitaries for which the road was closed. My idea was to go from Doi Tung by the border road to Mae Sai which was at that moment not possible so I did it in reverse. Down to the highway, up to Mae Sai and then back south along the border road to Doi Tung. I had to show my passport twice at army controls, once it and me on the bike were photographed, but no other hitch. Very steep climbs for a little bike but good weather, decent road surface and friendly natives (Akha and young military). Stunning views, very steep valleys, and all the fun of knowing Burma is on the right verge of the road. Sadly it was back to busy highways and crazy driving for the ride home.
    Here is an idea. Coming to Mae Sai from C Mai take the road to Phrao, then the scenic 1346 to Chai Prakarn. After Tha Ton use this beautiful road to get to Mae Sai via Doi Tung. Empty roads, great scenery, fun riding. Just beware some of the tightest, steepest bends (up and down) that I have ever negotiated.
    It was a good but tiring day, 260kms, much of it under 40kph, but my own fault was the pilgrimage that i never anticipated. Steve Merchant.
    A late addition: two things that made me laugh out loud. 1: After several kms of no-one and nothing at 40kph max I came around a corner to find a big rectangular yellow sign saying "city limits, please slow down". The Akha village it related to was even on the road but at least was doing its best to keep the kids safe. 2: Coming down a steep windy road I came across police accident marks on the road. The vehicle coming up on the wrong side met one coming down. An almost deserted location and he contrived an accident. TIT.
  2. I've been on that deserted road once. ianyonok planned a Chiang Rai Bikers Day Ride route for us a few years ago and that was the route he used to get us to the west of the 1089. I was taken aback by the amount of overgrowth on both sides of the nice two lane road, essentially making it a one lane road. I noticed that in many places, the road even had some curbs but they were buried by the fallen foliage. I also wondered why anyone would spend that money building a road that wouldn't be used. I kept expecting to meet a truck or car coming at us but we were pretty much the only folks on the road. Nice, quiet ride on the way to Doi Tung and then on to Mae Sai.
  3. I had same question in my mind, not even many villages so why all the expense.
  4. Gents, There are a couple of decent size Yao villages and a quite traditional Akha village on that wonderful road over the DMS National Park. In the high season quite a tourist minibuses go there. Also of course, there are "benefits" for all involved in roadbuilding here.
    The right turn off from the 1089 is here
    2012-10-14 11.23.47.
    The view from about 1/2 way along is great
    2012-11-10 10.39.32.
    Quite a big group, of many different bikes that day, Kandahar.
    2012-11-10 11.22.02.
    and some marvellous quiet roads.
    2012-11-10 12.15.11.
    Here's the full loop and a great day ride.
    Black route in the morning, on some super quiet roads including the Pha Bur 11x switchbacks. Then a stop for lunch in the local restaurants at Doi Tung, not the expensive tourists places. After lunch, the royal road back north over Doi Chiang Moob and down the scary Burma border road and out through Pa Mi. Super ride. That Chiang Rai bikers day out was 4 years ago!.....How time flies.. must do again sometime......
    Back roads Doi Tung route.
  5. Ian
    Thanks for the reply & reminder - those Pha Bur switchbacks are the best steepest nastiest ones in the North.
    I really must get back there again for another look 'n photo session.
    I may have some images from out there many years ago & will see if I can dig them out.

    Good to see you out & about riding again.
    Thanks for the contribution.
    How many thousand kms do you have up on that old Spark now?
    It must be getting up there.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. I see Ian goes up through Pa Mi village as well, that saves you the stop at the first Checkpoint, and makes them wonder on the second checkpoint how you got there.
    As I hate the HW 1 like the plague, my usual approach is the 1038, cross the HW 1 @ Chong, past the cave and up to Pa Mi. Most of the times I do the bigger loop, just stunning roads.
  7. David, I've put 16,000kms on it this year. Still regularly do Tha Ton to C Mai return to do jobs at my sons house. Had a major engine overhaul in Jan and reckon the old bike is good for a few more years yet. Its my arse that doesn't like the longer hours, a comfy seat must be nice.
  8. Hi Jethro, that route to Chong and past the cave looks good. Will try that next time. There are some great roads in there. Part of that loop from Pha Dua on to the 1338 is not on the map or gps map I think.
    I also like the extension from Doi Chang Moob further west along the border and down to 1334. I was there once, a day after a shootout with drug runners. Crime scene at one corner, blood and bullet casings on the road next to triangle markers. A couple of guys had been killed the night before. But it's quite safe in the daytime.
    Some super little villages in there too at Sammakhi Gao and Huai Pu Mai.

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